A Case Study of Federal Data in a Local Environmental Justice Community




Associate Professor Of German, Founding Director PPEH

Project Summary

My name is Jamie Gobreski, and this summer as part of PPEH’s Sink Float Spill Flow summer research cohort I explored federal data usage in the local climate justice community of Eastwick in Southwest Philadelphia. At the beginning of the summer as a group and during our On Water Intensive we visited Heinz National Wildlife Refuge and talked to Earl Wilson, who spoke about the environmental activism taken up by Eastwick Friends and Neighbors Coalition.  The area was subject to large urban renewal projects in the mid 20th century, has had to deal with extreme flooding and increasing flood insurance rates, and has two designated EPA Superfund sites. Under the framework of Dr. Wiggin’s Data Refuge Data-Story initiative that explores how data is used to keep people and places safe and healthy on our changing planet, I worked to understand the “story” of the Clearview and Folcroft superfund sites. Using the EPA data as a starting point, I also examined the socio-political historical context of the sites and included perspectives from various current stakeholders. The story will be included in the upcoming Data Refuge’s Data Story podcast series

Through my research experience, I learned a lot not only the extreme stakes of environmental justice actions in the wake of our warming planet and rising sea levels, I learned how to examine these issues through a historical lens that then allows us to place these issues in a current context. I also the urgency of sharing these stories in an accessible manner, through the framework of the data-stories initiative. My research experience this summer allowed me to connect place-based environmental stories, like the story of the Eastwick Superfund Sites, with policy and research based initiatives. Additionally, I know the urgency of telling these stories in a publicly accessible way will stay with me throughout all the work I do in the future.